“Everyone falls down. Getting back up is how you learn how to walk.” Walt Disney
It was a cold, snowy Sunday morning in an abandoned restaurant, and opening that door felt like opening the wardrobe to Narnia for me. The snow was outside, and inside what was playing out was anything but cold and snowy. On the other side of those doors, I was transported to 1920’s Kansas City and Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks realizing the dream of their own studio was coming to an end.
I had the privilege of being on the set of the Walt Disney biopic, As Dreamers Do, on the first day of production. Seeing one my heroes being portrayed at one the lowest points of his life got to me. I must be honest; I had to go outside for a few just to catch my breath from what I saw. Seeing Walt Disney’s story of failure on the way to success play before my eyes really moved me. The combination of amazing actors and the set truly took me to another time and place.
What was also unfolding was seeing the dream of my good friend, Logan Sekulow, come to life. Few things make me more giddy than seeing my friends not chase their dreams, but have the courage to see them come true. As you know, I am in the middle of finishing my book, Making Elephants Fly, inspired by Walt and seeing impossible dreams become reality. What Logan and his team have created with this film has really shaped me.
4 Big Walk Aways from my time on the set of As Dreamers Do:
1. We should be chasing failure more than success
The media has led us to believe that people just wake up one morning and success is delivered with the morning paper. The truth is there is no such thing as overnight success, at least not over one night. History has shown us that those that have seen massive success were also epic failures. Walt Disney is arguably one that shaped the 21st century and is still shaping the future now and will be for generations to come.
Everyone wants to talk about Walt’s success, and there was lots of that. Although the things that we look back on and call major successes in his life were seen as massive failures at the time. No one wants to talk about Laugh-o-Gram filing bankruptcy. No one wants talk about the struggles and all of the “no’s” he heard. No one wants to talk about the fact that he was fired from a newspaper for “having no original ideas” and “lacking imagination.” Walt believed his struggles were what shaped him. Above average people are just better at failing than most.
2. There is no way you are going to do it alone.
I was on the set for my on screen debut as L.R. Oswald, the pawnbroker who sold his camera to Walt Disney. When it was my time to go after lots of hurry up and wait, I never realized how many people it takes to make a movie! Before I even made it on camera I had to go through hair, make-up, and wardrobe.
My 15-seconds of fame was finally here! It was time to meet with the director and go over my character. On the other side of the camera, there are more guys that you can imagine, there was guys holding mics, camera operators, those setting up props, and others behind the scenes just making sure we everything on screen would work. Then there are those not in the room that made it happen: the screenwriter, the sound mixer in LA, the team doing the score, and countless others.
So much had to happen for my small part in the movie to come to life on the screen. No big massive dream is possible without a team behind it to make it a reality. Inviting others to be a part of your dream is the only way it will ever become a reality.
3. Doing is much harder than dreaming.
Lots people talk about making a movie, few actually do. Lots of people talk about getting on a plane, train, or automobile, and moving to a city of influence, but few actually do. Lots of people have big world changing dreams, few actually wake up and make them happen. I have learned this writing; it’s much easier to tell people you are writing a book than it is to actually write one.
All of Walt Disney’s life can be summed up with this: dreaming and doing. Walt dreamed, he did it, he failed a lot, and then he dreamed some more and made that happen all over again. I love surrounding myself with people that dream crazy impossible dreams. But if all we do is dream and fail to actually do, we are delusional. So let me say what I think Walt would say to you, keep dreaming big, kid; but have the courage to make them come true.
Logan Sekulow, my good friend and the film’s director describes the movie as, “The early life of Walt Disney is explored in this family film with an art house twist. Though his reality was often dark, it was skewed by his ever growing imagination and eternal optimism.” Olan Rogers brilliantly portrays Walt Disney. It’s narrated by There are even a few CCM legends. Steve Mason from Jars of Clay, Mark Stuart from Audio Adrenaline, and Kevin Max of DC Talk fame. Famous Disney Animator Tom Bancroft (Mushu from Mulan, Simba from the Lion King, and Iago in Aladdin) was brought on to do the opening credits.
I have seen the movie and it’s absolutely breathtaking. Olan Roger’s portrayal of Walt Disney is epic. The movie is available for pre-sale until April 11th. Run, don’t walk to pre-order this movie and own a piece of the magic.